Sports

Hawai´i-Born Fighter Can Build Reputation on UFC 264 Undercard This Weekend

July 8, 2021, 12:20 PM HST
* Updated July 9, 7:44 AM
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By Justin Snow, Special to Big Island Now

Brad Tavares. Twitter Photo.

If you live in Hawai´i and have never heard of UFC middleweight fighter Brad Tavares, you are not alone. But if you hail from the Hawaiian Islands and consider yourself a fan of mixed martial arts, his is a name you ought to know — especially come Saturday, July 10, when Tavares will fight as part of the undercard for UFC 264, this year’s largest Pay Per View Event to date.

He is not the owner of a flashy moniker like “Notorious” or “The Predator.” He is not the author of any inflammatory sound bites making the rounds on social media, contrived solely to manufacture drama where perhaps not enough exists. And with a professional record of 18-6, the O´ahu native and graduate of Waiākea High School has not navigated his career to this point without suffering a few blemishes along the way.

But do not get it twisted, Tavares very much deserves to be a relevant talking point in the conversation of middleweight competitors, a meaningful sub-segment of the UFC’s grand narrative. He has made several forays into the top 15 in his weight class over the course of an 11-year, 19-fight UFC career. Strangely enough, however, it’s Tavares’ losses, not his wins, that render him worthy of serious discussion.

Three of Tavares’ four most recent losses have been delivered by real life martial arts monsters. The defeats have come at the hands of former UFC Middleweight contender Yoel “The Soldier of God” Romero, former UFC Middleweight Champ Robert “The Reaper” Whitaker, and perhaps the most notable, yet seemingly most forgotten war, with current five-time World Middleweight Champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adasanya. Furthermore, neither Whitaker nor Adasanya were able to put Tavares away by knockout, requiring hard-fought decisions to defeat the Hawai´i-born scrapper.

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Even casual fans of the UFC know that not every professional mixed martial arts star has a vertical rise like that of the “Notoroious” Conor McGregor. But his zigging and zagging path to relevance has never discouraged Tavares.

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In a 2019 interview with Fernanda Prates and John Morgan of MMA Junkie, Tavares stated, “What’s hard for me is (after the last Adasanya fight) I got injured, so I wasn’t able to get back in the gym and work on things I wanted to work on from that fight.”

“So that was irritating,” Tavares continued. “Israel is somebody, don’t get me wrong, he is a great fighter and he beat me that night, but I know he is a guy that I can beat sooner or later. Hopefully sooner than later, we can run it back”.

That potential rematch could become a more swift possibility on the horizon if Tavares can continue gaining momentum, an ambition that would be served mightily by a victory over Omari Akhmedov (21-5-1) Saturday night. The matchup follows a dominant victory for Tavares in January over Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC 257, held on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

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However, just a run-of-the-mill win will likely not be enough to get Tavares the Adasanya rematch he’s seeking, or place him in the octagon against a fighter of similar status and repute. Akhmedov has a respectable record, but sportsbooks across the country have Tavares as a substantial favorite (-170) to win the bout.

A loss would be catastrophic for Tavares’ future. Conversely, a highlight reel knockout or submission while fighting on such a high-profile card could elevate the Waiākea Warrior to a more prominent position on the UFC middleweight map.

In either case, the Tavares sub-plot at UFC 264 is one worth some attention, so make sure to remember the name.

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